Hamilton storms to Monza pole


Following this morning's final free practice session, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was asked by Sky Sports F1 if he thought Ferrari might still have something in reserve. Whilst admitting that he only thought the Italian team might, added that his own team certainly did.

With a gap of 0.938s between pace-setter Lewis and Hamilton and third placed Sebastian Vettel this will be bad news for the tifosi.

Not for the first time, the timesheets have a symmetrical appearance with Mercedes heading Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull.

With Williams treating Friday's session as it always does - a test session - to see Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa leapfrogging the Red Bulls earlier came as a bit of a surprise. That said, perhaps a string of disappointing performances culminating in losing fourth place in the standings to Force India last week has kicked new life into the Grove outfit.

Despite the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari, hopefully all is not lost. The Italian team usually does have a trick up its sleeve for its home race, while the car is kinder to its supersofts than the aerodynamically perfect, but so demanding Mercedes.

As ever, Mas Verstappen was involved in a couple of incidents this morning, both at Ascari. In the first he blocked Nico Rosberg, who was on his first flying lap, while in the second it was he who was blocked, this time by Kevin Magnussen.

Behind the leading four teams lies a very tight midfield with the Force Indias leading the way. Esteban Gutierrez split the pair in FP3, Haas down to one car after Grosjean got beached in the gravel at Ascari early in the session.

To compound the Frenchman's woes he needs a new gearbox and thereby incurs a 5-place grid penalty.

McLaren is looking strong as does Renault, certainly compared to yesterday.

Sauber continues to find its feet following its takeover, while Toro Rosso is still floundering at a(nother) circuit where it expected to.

As in Spa, it will be interesting to see if some drivers opt to try and qualify on the softs as opposed to the supersofts, and whether some driver, as in Spa, ultimately change their minds.

In an interesting move, Pirelli has reduced tyre pressure by 2psi following yesterday's sessions, the manufacturer revealing that the reason is that it found 100kg more force on each front tyre compared to last year, while the estimated top speed is 10km/h quicker.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees. It remains bright and sunny.

Last time a driver other than the pole-sitter was to win here was back in 2009 when Lewis Hamilton took the coveted position but Rubens Barrichello went on to win the race.

The lights go green and Wehrlein gets things underway, followed by Magnussen, Palmer and Kvyat.

A mistake at the first chicane sees Magnussen run wide thereby ruining his first flying lap at the outset. He crosses the line at 1:25.074.

Sure enough, Palmer posts 24.821 and Kvyat 24.440.

The Ferrari-powered Haas duo go first and second, Gutierrez leading the way with a 23.984.

Local hero Vettel, and former local hero Alonso, head out. Both get a warm reception form the crowd.

Warm, is not however, how you might describe the look on Sergio Marchionne's face. It has that 'wait until I get you home', look about it.

Rosberg gets things serious with a 22.497 as Ocon grinds to a halt at T1 thereby bringing out the yellows. The French youngster reports he suffered an electrics issue.

Hamilton posts 21.854, eclipsing his teammate by 0.643.

As Verstappen begins his first flying lap, Massa goes third ahead of Button.

Verstappen goes third (23.229) but is almost instantly demoted by Vettel (23.077) and Raikkonen (23.217).

"So far, it looks like Hamilton will be hard to beat," admits Pirelli. "Last year he claimed a grand slam: pole, race win and fastest lap."

As Ricciardo goes seventh, Perez goes eighth and Hulkenberg tenth.

With 5:00 remaining, Alonso, Grosjean, Palmer, Magnussen, Ericsson and Ocon comprise the drop zone. Ocon, of course, will play no further part in the session.

Interestingly, Ricciardo improves on his second flying lap, posting 23.158 to go fourth.

Beautiful slide from Grosjean. Mind you, it will cost him precious time. That said, it doesn't he goes ninth (23.421) just behind his Haas teammate.

All but Magnussen posts PBs in S1 as the final assault gets underway, while it is Palmer who loses out in S2.

Alonso improves to 14th, but is demoted by Wehrlein and Hulkenberg, however, he makes it to Q2 by the skin of his Spanish teeth.

Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Gutierrez and Grosjean.

We lose Kvyat, Nasr, Ericsson, Palmer, Magnussen and Ocon.

Neither Nasr or Kvyat are happy; "what the ****. *****. Last corner again," shouts the Russian.

Interestingly, all but the Ferraris ran on the supersofts in Q1, even the Mercedes.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

Q2 gets underway, but it is some time before a car heads out... it is Rosberg. Shortly after teammate Hamilton follows.

As Rosberg begins his flying lap, he and his teammate, both on softs, have the track to themselves.

Rosberg stops the clock at 21.809 while Hamilton crosses the line at 21.498. That's an average speed of just under 159 mph.

Wehrlein is the third driver to post a time, the Manor driver posting 23.842. Alonso can only manage 23.956.

Bottas and Massa go third and fourth, the Finn 1.001s off Hamilton's best.

Button can only manage 9th (24.315) as both McLarens are out-paced by the Manor of Wehrlein.

On the supersofts, Vettel can only manage 22.275, and while this is good enough for third, he is 0.777s off the pace.

Raikkonen goes fifth, Ricciardo ninth (23.04) and Verstappen tenth.

With 4:45 remaining, Sainz, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Wehrlein and the McLarens comprise the drop zone, with the Red Bulls, Perez and Gutierrez hovering.

As the clock ticks down all bar Vettel and Bottas are on track. It's unclear why the Mercedes duo felt the need to go out, though Hamilton had complained of a flat-spot earlier.

In S1 alone, it is clear that Verstappen is not going to improve. However, he does up his pace in S1.

The Dutch driver improves to sixth (22.857) as Hulkenberg goes eighth. However, both are demoted when Gutierrez goes sixth.

A late improvement from Ricciardo sees the Australian go sixth (22.638) thereby condemning Massa to the drop zone.

Quickest was Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Verstappen, Perez and Hulkenberg.

We lose Massa, Grosjean, Alonso, Wehrlein, Button and Sainz.

While it was the Ferraris that were the exception to the rule in Q1, it was Mercedes in Q2 that used the soft tyres to set their best times, and Q2 is when it matters.

Rosberg once again gets proceedings underway, the Mercedes followed by Vettel, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Perez.

As in Q2, Rosberg sets the pace in each sector only to be eclipsed by his teammate who is running behind. The German posts 21.646 but Hamilton responds with a 21.358.

Raikkonen goes third, ahead of Vettel, Hulkenberg and Perez.

While 0.288s separates the Mercedes duo, Raikkonen is 0.707s down on Hamilton.

Bottas goes fifth (22.457), ahead of Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Perez, with Gutierrez having aborted his first run after making a mistake at Lesmo now having to rely on just one run.

With just under three minutes remaining all ten drivers head out.

Rosberg can only manage a PB in S1 while Hamilton appears to have already settled.

In S2 Rosberg does improve, while Bottas and Raikkonen are fighting for third.

Hamilton not only responds in S2 he goes quicker in S3, crossing the line at 21.135 to consolidate his pole position.

Vettel also improves, despite running wide in Parabolica, leapfrogging teammate Raikkonen to take third, albeit 0.837s off the pace, thereby making it an all Ferrari second row.

Verstappen momentarily has sixth, only to be demoted when his teammate posts 22.389, Ricciardo just 0.001s off (fifth placed) Bottas' time.

Ignoring the fact that he was 0.837s ahead of Vettel, the very fact that he eclipsed his own teammate by 0.478s must leave Hamilton feeling very, very confident ahead of tomorrow's race.

Hamilton takes pole, ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez.

Massa is eleventh, ahead of Grosjean, Alonso, Wehrlein, Button, Sainz, Kvyat, Nasr, Ericsson, Palmer, Magnussen and Ocon.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 03/09/2016
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